Based on the average exchange rate for 2020, the Philippine peso depreciated by -4.5% against the US dollar since 2016 but appreciated by 4.2% from 2019 to 2020. Stronger local currency in the Philippines compared to 2019 makes Filipino imports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive than in 2019 when converted starting from the Philippine peso.
From a continental perspective, approaching two-thirds (63.8%) of the Philippines’ total imports by value in 2020 were purchased from fellow Asian countries. Trade partners in Europe supplied 7.1% of imports delivered to the Philippines while 6.9% worth of goods originated from North America. Smaller percentages came from Oceania (1.3%) led by Australia and New Zealand, Latin America (1%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, then Africa (0.2%).
Given the Philippine population of 108.9 million people, its total $112.9 billion in 2020 imports translates to roughly $1,050 in yearly product demand from every person in the Southeast Asian nation.
Philippines Top 10 Imports
The following product groups represent the highest dollar value worth of import purchases during 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into the Philippines.
- Electrical machinery, equipment: US$27 billion (23.9% of total imports)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $13.6 billion (12%)
- Machinery including computers: $12.5 billion (11.1%)
- Vehicles: $8.5 billion (7.5%)
- Iron, steel: $3.9 billion (3.5%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $3.7 billion (3.3%)
- Cereals: $2.9 billion (2.6%)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: $2.8 billion (2.5%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $2.4 billion (2.1%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $1.9 billion (1.7%)
The Philippines’ top 10 imports accounted for over two-thirds (70.1%) of the overall value of its product purchases from other countries.
Imported optical, technical and medical apparatus posted the fastest-growing increase in value among the top 10 import categories, up 17.5% from 2019 to 2020. The other top category to expand was cereals via its 7% gain, bolstered by Philippines’ higher international sales of rice and wheat.
Leading decliners year over year were iron and steel (down -24.7%) and aircraft and spacecraft (down -14.5%).
Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more detailed view of imported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the adjacent product folder tabs.
Filipino importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of electronic equipment including consumer electronics.
- Integrated circuits/microassemblies: US$13.1 billion (down -2.8% from 2019)
- Phone system devices including smartphones: $3.3 billion (down -0.1%)
- Solar power diodes/semi-conductors: $1.8 billion (up 25.4%)
- Insulated wire/cable: $1 billion (down -12.9%)
- Electrical converters/power units: $729.9 million (down -3.5%)
- Printed circuits: $651.4 million (up 21.6%)
- Lower-voltage switches, fuses: $641.2 million (down -13.7%)
- Electrical capacitators: $437.7 million (down -12.2%)
- Electric storage batteries: $390.7 million (up 50.4%)
- TV receivers/monitors/projectors: $369.3 million (down -19.2%)
Among these import subcategories, Philippine purchases of electric storage batteries (up 50.4%), solar power diodes or semi-conductors (up 25.4%) then printed circuits (up 21.6%) grew from 2019 to 2020.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported electronics among Filipino businesses and consumers.
Filipino importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machines including computers.
- Computer parts, accessories: US$2.1 billion (down -3% from 2019)
- Computers, optical readers: $859 million (up 0.01%)
- Miscellaneous machinery: $495 million (down -35.5%)
- Printing machinery: $407 million (down -66.9%)
- Refrigerators, freezers: $359.2 million (down -13.5%)
- Air conditioners: $339.8 million (down -23.7%)
- Machinery for making semi-conductors: $310.5 million (up 10.5%)
- Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers): $286.2 million (down -35.7%)
- Air or vacuum pumps: $247.9 million (down -23.1%)
- Centrifuges, filters and purifiers: $210.8 million (down -2%)
Among these import subcategories, Philippine purchases of machinery for making semi-conductors (up 10.5%) and computers including optical readers (up 0.01%) grew from 2019 to 2020.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported machinery among Filipino businesses and consumers.
Filipino importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of mineral fuels-related products.
- Processed petroleum oils: US$4.4 billion (down -39.6% from 2019)
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: $1.5 billion (down -20.6%)
- Crude oil: $1.3 billion (down -61.2%)
- Petroleum gases: $730.2 million (down -5.6%)
- Natural bitumen, asphalt, shale: $34.4 million (down -40.5%)
- Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation): $17.1 million (down -40.5%)
- Petroleum oil residues: $9.9 million (down -54.4%)
- Petroleum jelly, mineral waxes: $9 million (down -36.6%)
- Coke, semi-coke: $3.2 million (down -52.7%)
- Peat: $287,000 (up 31.1%)
Among these import subcategories, Philippine purchases of peat (up 31.1%) was the sole gainer from 2019 to 2020.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported fossil fuel-related products among Filipino businesses and consumers.
Filipino importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of vehicles-related products.
- Cars: US$1.9 billion (down -38.8% from 2019)
- Trucks: $1.1 billion (down -39.5%)
- Motorcycles: $1 billion (down -30.2%)
- Automobile parts/accessories: $308.7 million (down -43.7%)
- Public-transport vehicles: $303.3 million (down -56.8%)
- Motorcycle parts/accessories: $202.9 million (down -38.5%)
- Tractors: $111.6 million (down -39.4%)
- Bicycles, other non-motorized cycles: $59.6 million (up 106.1%)
- Special purpose vehicles: $55.3 million (down -31.9%)
- Trailers: $35 million (down -33.5%)
Among these import subcategories, Philippine purchases of bicycles plus other non-motorized cycles (up 106.1%) was the sole gainer from 2019 to 2020.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported vehicles-related products among Filipino businesses and consumers.
See also Philippines Top 10 Exports, Philippines Top Trading Partners and Top Filipino Trade Balances
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 12, 2021.
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on March 12, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 12, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 12, 2021
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on March 12, 2021
Wikipedia, List of Companies of the Philippines. Accessed on March 12, 2021
Wikipedia, Philippines. Accessed on March 12, 2021